India to face Spain in Davis Cup World Group play-off

India will play at home against sixth seed Spain in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie to be played from September 16 to 18. It will be the first home tie for India against Spain in four meetings.

Anil Khanna..."I have a feeling that the tie is likely on grass."   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

India will play at home against sixth seed Spain in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie to be played from September 16 to 18.

"It is a very tough team, on any surface. We have to prepare well. The surface will depend on who are all in the team," said Rohan Bopanna.

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The president of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Anil Khanna, hinted that it could be on grass, but emphasised that the decision would be made in due course of time, in consultation with the captain and also S. P. Misra, the Chairman of the selection committee. "I have a feeling that the tie is likely on grass," said Khanna.

The AITA president, who is also the president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) and the Vice President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), hoped that Rafael Nadal would make it to the tie. "If Rafa can make it, it will be great for India," said Khanna, emphasising that there were no teams at this stage that could be termed easy.

"All the teams are equally good," said Khanna.

Rafael Nadal, who has a 26-5 record in Davis Cup, had played in the Group-1 competition against Denmark last year. Spain has won the Davis Cup five times and finished runner-up four times.

Potent team

Apart from the fourth-ranked Nadal, Spain has David Ferrer (13), Roberto Bautista Agut (15), Feliciano Lopez (21), Albert Ramos-Vinolas (31), Nicolas Almagro (45), Marcel Granollers (46), Fernando Verdasco (47) in the top-50 of singles. Spain also has top ranked doubles specialists to choose from, Feliciano Lopez (16), Marc Lopez (19), Marcel Granollers (34), David Marrero (54) and Pablo Carreno Busta (57).

Spain has a 2-1 record against India, in matches played from 1922 to 1965. India had won 3-2 in 1927 in Barcelona on clay. India had played Spain on grass in Bristol, England, in the World Group quarterfinals in 1922 and was beaten 4-1. Spain won 3-2 in Barcelona on clay when the two teams met the last time in 1965.

It will be the first home tie for India against Spain in four meetings. It will be interesting to see whether Yuki Bhambri returns to the circuit from the painful 'tennis elbow' and strengthens the team.

Equally interesting will be to see whether Somdev Devvarman who has also been out of the circuit owing to injury, returns to the circuit and improves his ranking that has slipped into the 300s.

India had beaten Korea 4-1 in the Asia-Oceania group-1 tie on grass in Chandigarh on Sunday, to qualify for the World Group play-off for the third year in a row. India had lost to Serbia and Czech Republic the last two times in Bengaluru and Delhi respectively, but had put up impressive fights.